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January 13, 2012 4:13 pm

Round Three: Israel-PA Conversations Continue

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat. Picture: Nati Shohat/Flash90/JTA

Negotiators for both the Palestinian Authority and Israel will meet in Amman for a third set of face-to-face meetings this weekend. Both sides have expressed a level of positive expectation that the discussions in Amman could lead to the resumption of full peace talks. Descriptions of the first two face-to-face conversations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have included a Fatah spokesman’s “very disappointed” to an Israeli statement that Jerusalem “wanted the process to succeed,” to a designation of the talks as “open and frank” from the Jordanian Foreign Ministry

Only the Jordanian Foreign Ministry is authorized to make public statements about the meetings. Acknowledging that there were differences between the parties, it called the issues discussed “important.”

Before the Quartet (US, EU, Russia, and UN) fostered, Jordanian hosted January 3 meeting, negotiations between the PA and Israel had been suspended for some 15 months ago. Then, PA President Mahmuod Abbas ended discussions, according to his statements, in response to Israel’s resumption of development construction in Judea and Jerusalem.

On the Thursday following the conclusion of Round Two (Monday January 09, 2012) President Abbas told members of his Fatah party that no new proposals had been made (by the Israel negotiators,) saying  “The words that we heard in Netanyahu’s residence are the same words he is repeating now, nothing new.” According to YNet, Fatah Executive Committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul said that Israel “failed to address any of the important issues. The meetings in Amman didn’t result in any progress. There is no new development.” He characterized King Abdullah of Jordan response as “very disappointed.”

The momentum, however, appears intact, with a third meeting scheduled for January 15. The Quartet has set a January 26 deadline for the two sides to each state its positions on security arrangements for a future “two-state solution.” While a leaked European Union report said “The window for the two-state solution is rapidly closing,” American officials have indicated some date flexibility.

As reported by the Israeli daily Haaretz “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering the implementation of several confidence-building measures towards the Palestinian Authority. In return, Netanyahu would expect Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to continue talks with the Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and to refrain from any efforts to pursue Palestinian statehood at the UN.”

When King Abdullah journeys to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama January 17, the monarch will have with him the results of three, face-to-face working sessions. According to the White House, the January 17 meeting “will focus on advancing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as other economic and security issues in the region.”

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